Board and Batten

If you looked closely at this picture from this post, you may have seen a sneak peak of today’s project.

chair rail

I actually measured for this right before Christmas, but knew I wouldn’t get started on it for a while. In order to avoid having to remeasure later, I marked my spots with masking tape.


It was like this for a couple of weeks. At Christmas time! We had friends over. I’m sure they thought I was crazy. Meh. Real life, y’all.

Then I finally came along and painted over the tape so that I could remove it without losing my measurements.

paint tape remove tape

It was like that when my MIL came and stayed a few days at New Year’s/for the hub’s birthday. She knows we’re crazy. I also make notes to myself right on the wall. What better place for notes, really? It’s what the best carpenters do.


Anyway, I’m doing board and batten in there. Those marks were where my pieces of wood would go. I finally got around to hanging them, but I can’t proceed farther on that part until I can get accurate measurements around the sink area (which I’m waiting to do until we install the new vanity).

The walls in that bathroom have no texture. I assume there was originally wallpaper and someone removed it at some point. They didn’t bother to texture the walls afterwards, which is fine by me. Some parts of the country actually rarely have textured walls. I don’t know why Oklahoma is so texture happy, but I love a smooth wall!

Since my walls are smooth, I could use lattice directly on the wall for a board and batten look. If your walls are textured, you could start with a piece of plywood and then add lattice to that.

Everyone and their dog has blogged about board and batten (YHL has a compilation in this post), so I won’t spend too much time explaining every single detail. As always, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. I didn’t read any of those posts except YHL back when they originally blogged it, but I did do a quick Pinterest search for board and batten. I didn’t need instructions as much as I just wanted inspiration pictures. 🙂

As you can see if you click through that Pinterest link, there are a million ways to go about this. I chose to use lattice for my battens rather than a costlier 1×2. This saved money and also allowed me to use a narrower top molding. Space is at a premium in this guest bathroom, and I didn’t want a thick piece of molding preventing the door from opening flat against the wall. I could have used 1x2s for the battens AND the top molding and not have used a terrible amount of space, but I wanted my top molding to be a bit more detailed. I wanted it to stick out further than my battens. Does that make sense?

This bathroom needed new baseboards anyway, so it wasn’t a concern for me, but the lattice is also thin enough to work with most existing baseboards that you guys might have if you want to do this project yourself. I’m not installing baseboards until after we replace the tile, which will be a ways down the road, so I left space for my baseboard and started my batten a few inches up off the floor. Obviously if you’re doing this entire project all at once, start with the baseboards in place and go up from there.

The math will be different depending on the room, but the method is the same. I took the length of my walls and then kinda eyeballed what I thought was a pleasing distance between battens. Then I divided my wall length by that amount. I actually made a couple of sections (behind the door and behind the toilet) a bit bigger than the other sections to avoid wrapping a corner. I wanted my sections to end perfectly in a corner to avoid an awkward skinny section somewhere. I saw a few things on Pinterest (I won’t be so tacky as to link them) where they wrapped a corner to always have equal sections and it looked really funny to me. I’d rather adjust a couple of sections by an inch or two than have that look. I don’t think you could even tell unless you brought a tape measure with you into my bathroom.

Like I said, I won’t go into great detail with instructions, but here’s a quick synopsis…

The possibilities are practically limitless for the top molding. Many people do a flat piece and then turn another piece on top of that for the ledge. Or, leaving it with just the flat piece (like YHL did) is also popular. You can join many different molding options to make it exactly like you want it. I wanted a small ledge, but I wanted to achieve it all in one step. I found this molding…

chair rail2

I decided to paint the top portion of the wall first so that I wouldn’t have to cut in above the molding once it was nailed in place. I did use caulk for a perfect joint, so I had to touch up a couple of places where it got a little smeary, but it was still much faster and easier than cutting in the entire thing.

After I painted the top part, I still had my little marks where I painted over the masking tape to tell me where to put the lattice.

top wall painted

I installed my top molding first so that I wouldn’t have to remeasure height each time for the lattice since I don’t have baseboards in place yet. If you did have baseboards, you’d cut your pieces to the correct length and then just put them right on top of the baseboard without any further measurements necessary.

Make sure and use a level, of course.

level1 level2


Then I caulked my seams, counter sunk and filled my nail holes, and primed the wood and any rogue gray paint.


I will wait to finish painting the walls and board and batten until we finish up the vanity area, but here’s what it looks like right now.

need baseboards corner chair rail3 bathroom progress

It’s ridiculously difficult to get a picture of the entire bathroom since it’s such a tiny space. I suppose this is where a wide angle lens would be super helpful? Someday I might purchase and learn to use such a thing so I can be a legit blogger with decent pics. Maybe.